Updated on 27 November 2012
Ms Corissa Leung, Singapore senior director, health industry, Accenture
The challenges of 21st century healthcare will soon exacerbate if two colliding forces are not addressed – rising chronic disease and aging populations. The World Health Organization estimates that by 2015, chronic diseases will account for 64 percent of all deaths and will further accelerate as the retirement population rises to 714 million people in 2020. However, unlike patients with acute symptoms, doctors treating chronic diseases will rely on extensive medical records — often terabytes of clinical data — for informing their care decisions.
The rise of health management services in recent years is a direct response to these deficiencies in the current health care system in addressing the needs of chronic and aging patients. However, most of these "high-touch" models remain flawed, relying on periodic access to specially trained nurses rather than detailed visibility to a patient's ongoing situation. Without engaging on consistent health data, their ability to influence patient outcomes is limited.
Three technologies for health management
With the wide availability of inexpensive connectivity and various health electronics, the consumer infrastructure already exists in many households. The combination of ubiquitous networks and smart devices will increasingly be able to complement patient care – monitoring physiological symptoms, uploading to health records and prompting two-way communication between patients and care providers. Three technologies offer significant potential for shaping better health management, specifically for the chronically ill.
First, the emergence of home solutions for remote monitoring, such as wireless sensors, is enabling patients to capture and share real-time health data with providers. With recent advances to microprocessors, these devices are becoming smaller, cheaper and smarter. They can interface wirelessly with home computers, mobile phones or even remote applications.